It's time to send off another batch of cookies to my daughter A. You know, the one who went off to college and never calls or writes unless she needs something? Yeah, that one. Just last week, I saw her online and we chatted for a couple of minutes, and then I went to amazon and ordered her two hundred ear plugs. It was just easier that way.
Anyway, I'd originally planned to make some sort of peanut butter and chocolate cookie. Perhaps a traditional peanut butter cookie with an indent, filled with a very thick ganache. But when I was researching various peanut butter cookie recipes, I decided to modify one that said it was traditional by adding some cocoa powder to the dough. I have found that the addition of cocoa powder adds a great deal to many different cookies, most notably lebkuchen. I also used less flour than originally called for, and I used all butter instead of shortening. And I ditched the brown sugar. Anyway, once I tried my recipe, I decided that the resulting cookies were exactly right, and that the addition of further chocolate -- even chunked good dark chocolate or a very rich ganache -- would be counterproductive.
I have nothing against the traditional, crumbly peanut butter cookies, that are formed with a fork. It's just that my cookies are better. A lot better. Really superlative. And they're still good nearly a week later, so I know that the batch I just made and will mail tomorrow will be fine for days after A. receives them. And, really, between her and her fellow students, they're unlikely to last more than a few hours, anyway.
The shape of these cookies is due to the thumbprint method of forming them. I had originally expected the dough to hold its shape slightly more, and I was trying to make indentations that could be filled with melted chocolate. Instead, I get something that has a very slight concavity, sort of like one side of a red blood cell. The cookies are moderately crisp instead of chewy.
I can get six or seven rows of four of these cookies onto a half-sheet pan. I find that it's easier to form them into balls if the dough's been refrigerated overnight, but there's certainly nothing to stop you from scooping the dough immediately onto the cookie sheets. The thumbprint is probably unnecessary, but I very much like both the shape and the cookie, so I'm sticking with that method. If you don't refrigerate the dough, it's likely that you'll need a minute or so less of cooking time. With dough that's been resting overnight in the refrigerator, I get perfect cookies after twelve minutes at 375. Because the dough starts out brown, it's not all that easy to tell from sight when they're done. If you touch the top of a cookie while it's still in the oven, it will seem soft but not wet when it's done.
Peanut Butter Thumbprints
1 c. butter, at room temperature
1 c. smooth peanut butter
2 c. granulated sugar
1 t. vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
2 c. flour
1/4 c. cocoa powder
1 t. baking soda
Cream the butter, peanut butter and sugar together. Add the vanilla, eggs, and salt, and mix until well combined. Combine the remaining three ingredients then mix them into the other ingredients until the dough is smooth and uniform.
Measure the dough out with a small cookie scoop (or a teaspoon). Roll each bit of ball into a dough and place on a lined cookie sheet. Using the tip of your thumb, make an indent in each ball of dough.
Bake at 375 degrees for twelve minutes. Remove from oven, let cool on the pan for five minutes, then remove to a rack to cool completely.
Makes approximately ten dozen.